Friday, May 28, 2010

Fiction Friday: Mabel

He was shooting birds for sport. A cruel, heartless activity in Mabel’s mind. She was just taking a walk through the prairie behind her house, savoring the warm sun emerging after months of cold. It was meant to be a relaxing walk. A walk where she could forget what had just happened. And for a moment, it was. Her canvas shoes flattening the smooth grass as she walked. Her fingtertips brushing through the breeze and sliding against the cool fabric of her dress. It gave her peace, walking amongst the greatness of the earth. Then she heard the gunshots.

The first one had flattened her. She had thrown herself on the ground, ducking in fear. The crack was loud, but as she pressed her body against the grass, she realized that it was in the distance. How far she could not tell. With the second shot, she looked up to see birds scattering in the sky in the direction of the Cutter’s farm. As the third shot rang out, Mabel could see the birds were fleeing from a cluster of trees on the edge of their property. It was the oldest boy Hank, no doubt, shooting into the trees with his father’s shotgun. Amusing himself by terrorizing others. Just like he’d always done at school when they were younger.

Mabel stood, anger and indignance filling the empty void in her being. She began to stride purposefully across the field, heading for a fight. A few more shots rang out, a few more birds scattered. As she got closer, she had to put her fingers in her ears to shield her fragile soul from the booming sounds.

Finally, she could see him. Standing with his back to her, aiming up at the trees. Wearing a pair of overalls and a cap, he cocked the gun and fired.

“Hey!” Mabel shouted. But her words were drowned out by the cacophony of frightened bird cries. She could see Hank setting up for another shot, so she took a deep breath and tried again.

“Hank Cutter!” she screamed. Hank swung his body around at the sound of his name, gun still raised. Mabel dropped down to the ground to get out of his line of fire. Hank, upon realizing who was standing there, or rather now lying there, lowered his gun to his side.

“Mabel Weatherly? What are you doing sneaking around like that?”

Mabel jumped to her feet, head dizzy with rage. “What do you think you’re doin’ shooting birds for target practice? You think those birds don’t have feelings, you stupid piece of shit? Why don’t you go back to shooting cans off the fence, for Christ sake?”

Hank’s expression was odd. He wasn’t sheepish or guilt-ridden like she’d hoped he’d be after her tirade. Instead, he stared at her curiously, his eyes filled with worry and compassion. Her feet started to give beneath her and she swayed.

“Well what the hell’s the matter with you?” she asked. “Never been yelled at by a woman before?”

Hank shook his head slightly and simply said, “Mabel. You’re bleeding.”

Click here to read Mabel, Part 2

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Business Cards

How many times have you heard this at an industry networking event?

"I forgot to bring my business cards."

Now, how many times have you been the one saying it?

Business cards are a must in entertainment, no matter if you’re an actor, a writer, or a forest fire fighter. The currency of entertainment is relationships, and business cards are a great way to track those relationships and establish your brand at the same time.

If you don’t have current business cards, visit Vistaprint to get 250 free business cards. Just pay for shipping and you're good to go!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm Sitting in a Chair in the Sky

I am currently blogging while 36,965 feet in the air on a red-eye flight from LA to Boston. How do I know my exact altitude? My trusty RED in-flight interactive entertainment system tells me so. I’m also catching up on episodes of LOST on, thanks to WiFI from GoGo Inflight Internet. When I touch down, I’ll text a few people to let them know I arrived safely, then use my mobile phone to send a Tweet that will also update my Facebook status.

The world has truly become an amazingly connected and advanced network of personal relationships and technical devices. It’s awe-inspiring, especially when I consider all the changes that have happened during my lifetime.

Then again, is the feeling of wonder that I experienced when introduced to the iPad any different than the wonder I felt when my dad introduced me to the Commodore 64? Or when I was introduced to email in 1992? Every technological breakthrough is a game changer, no matter how awesome the world was before it came along. The advancements will never end. The innovation continues because our imaginations are endless.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by our increasingly complex society, my advice is to get over it, because it’s only going to get worse. Find a way to go with the flow while maintaining a healthy sense of humor. You’ll be much happier.

Louis CK says it best:

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Have So Many Words

There’s this lyric from the musical "A New Brain"that keeps circling through my head. “I have so many songs.” Gordon sings this in his dream state as he’s being wheeled into the emergency room for a brain abnormality. He’s an unfulfilled songwriter who sings about all the songs he has left to write.

I feel that way about words. I have so many words to write. In the pages of my journal, in this blog, in my scripts. So many things to say, describe, express. The words dance through my brain, across my tongue, and into my pen.

I don’t think of myself as a storyteller. At least, not yet. I never have stories for The Moth StorySLAMs. I’m not that girl with stories of all the cool and amazing experiences from my youth. I have no story about jumping out of a tree at Old Mill Pond or sleepwalking in Walla Walla, Washington. I have one good one about being left alone in the Nevada desert and communing with nature, but even that story is a bit internal. Nothing compared to Ed Gavagan’s story of being stabbed and left for dead.

But I do have words. Words that shape the fabric of my existence. Words about my soul’s inner journey, words in response to the world’s shenanigans, words about the people who have drifted in and out of my sphere of knowing. These words are infinite and ever flowing. On my best days, they stream out articulately and succinctly. My worst, they dump out as babbling, driven by passion or wine consumption.

They’re always there for me, my words. Dependable and abundant. I thank them for the gift of their existence. Because of them, I’ll always have something to say.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Everyone’s a Critic. Especially Me.

Personal statements / letters of interest are necessary evils of the worst kind. They’re totally contrived assignments that are meant to take the place of a traditional face-to-face interview, which is in and of itself filled with so much bullshit, the thought of attempting to write the bullshit down on paper is agonizing.

And I hate the idea that being able to eloquently blow my own horn is a skill that’s directly related to my career success. Where is humility and modesty in this paradigm? What about the old adage, “My work stands for itself.”

<sigh> End rant.

Neither argument has any place in the real world, I know. Because as a writer, I am the product. My letter of interest is my product description. They’re not asking me to write a letter of interest to gauge my skill at writing letters of interest. They want a one-page glimpse into me. What am I like? Do I get the creative process? Am I someone they’d want to work with? Or am I a nutjob?

I’ve always told actors that to be successful, you need to be a little bit of a diva. You need to walk into every audition knowing that the part absolutely deserves to be yours, no matter who you saw in the waiting room that might be better for the role. Staunch self-confidence is a must at all times.

So when it comes to being a writer, why is self-assurance so much harder to anchor?

Maybe it’s because, as someone once told me, being a writer is simply the ongoing process of trying to get the critic off your shoulder. My critic is always there on my shoulder, and she’s as stubborn as my Taurus self. I can calm her with meditation or chocolate, but she’s always at the ready with doubtful comments and eye rolls galore.

She’s bad enough when I’m working on a script, but when I sit down to write a personal statement about how fantastic I am, she’s suddenly an Olympian in her criticism. I can only hope to distract her with hot chocolate long enough to get out one double-spaced page about my value. After that, it’s back to the critic’s table.